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Wakefield Year in Review Part II


by Thomas Beeler
Editor of The Granite State News
January 09, 2014
WAKEFIELD — In Part I of this review we covered the major issues in 2013 in Wakefield, as well as the election. This week we continue our chronicle of milestones to include not only the town, but Wakefield businesses, organizations and people as well.

Town milestones

Wakefield Pride Day was held on May 18 under the sponsorship of the Parks and Recreation Department.

Work continued on Town Hall during 2013. Not only were sprinkler and smoke detector alarm systems put in to bring the building up to the current fire code, but a standby emergency generator was installed and the downstairs code and land use offices remodeled. Lighting was also upgraded in the Opera House.

The town website, www.wakefieldnh.com, was upgraded and is now maintained by Virtual Towns & Schools.

The town began the process of evaluating potential electricity suppliers that offer lower electricity prices than PSNH.

The North Wakefield Road bridge repairs were finally completed in the summer. The project was done over three years for a total cost of $257,250 vs. the initial $1 million estimate.

A total of 16 tax-deeded properties were sold at auction by attorney Rick Sager, who did all of the advertising and ran the auction at no cost to the town (he was paid a separate buyer's commission). The auction raised $187,000 in revenues for the town and put all 16 lots back on the tax rolls.

The town property tax rate for 2013 rose 2.76 percent to $12.28 per thousand dollars of valuation from the 2012 rate of $11.95 per thousand. Town Administrator Teresa Williams attributed the rise to a decline in assessed values, not an increase in spending.

Selectmen accepted an offer from Planet Aid to pay 0.05 cents per pound of clothing and shoes collected in return for being the exclusive clothes collector at the transfer station.

Businesses and organizations

As 2013 began East Wakefield welcomed two new restaurants: Shenanigans (which had just opened in December) and Papa's Kitchen.

The Wakefield Inn was purchased by Dino and Connie Nicastro and reopened with an expanded restaurant offering under Chef Christina Nicastro.

Twin Dragon Martial Arts was named the Wakefield Business of the Year by the Greater Wakefield Chamber of Commerce.

Lovell Lake Market celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2013, donating $500 to the Opera House in April and holding raffles and a Whoopie Pie Eating Contest on Nov. 22.

The Wakefield Food Pantry moved into its new building next to the highway department on Route 153 and held an Open House on Jan. 13. On Jan. 10, before the Open House, volunteers were honored at a catered luncheon at the new building. Later in the spring the Food Pantry started a community garden behind the new building to grow fresh produce for pantry clients, and on July 26 youth from the Union Congregational Church held a cleanup day, clearing away debris left after the building was constructed.

The Food Pantry benefited from a number of fundraisers during the year. The second ARFF Walk raised funds for the pantry and Lovell Lake Food Center collected 42 bags of non-perishable food as part of its 20th anniversary celebration.

All of that fundraising and food collection was needed since demand at the pantry was up 22 percent in 2013 over 2012.

The Heritage Commission celebrated its 20th year of preserving Wakefield landmarks with Wakefield Heritage Day in Union on Aug. 10, where the new blacksmith shop was open and the first showing given of the HO gauge model railroad of Wakefield in 1909. A second Holiday Open House was held on Dec. 1, which was included in the northeast model railroad community's Tour de Chooch.

Garvin Gallery Five opened in the second floor of the Garvin Building to showcase and sell the work of Wakefield area artists.

In December the Gafney Library announced that it had reached an agreement with Fred Guldbrandsen to purchase enough land to expand the library from 2,500 to 10,000 square feet. Fundraising for the land purchase and building fund will begin in 2014.

Moose Mountain Regional Greenways announced it will become a Land Trust for conservation land. As a member of the Salmon Falls Watershed Collaborative (with the Acton Wakefield Watersheds Alliance and York County Soil and Water Conservation District) it shared the 2012 U.S. Water Prize from the Clean Water America Alliance for its watershed protection work.

MMRG in turn supported the new Wakefield-Brookfield Trail Rail Action Committee with a $1,000 grant on May 15. Scott Bramer, owner of the Miss Wakefield Diner, and Wolfeboro TRAC also donated. The new group was able to complete the first phase of a new trail along the railroad tracks from Turntable Park in Sanbornville to Route 16. The second phase, from Route 16 to Clark Road in Brookfield, will be undertaken in 2014.

A Province Lake Watershed Study was launched to identify sources of pollution in the lake.

The boiler was replaced at the Greater Wakefield Resource Center in Union in the fall.

People

Denny and Janet Miller, both active with the Food Pantry, were named Wakefield Citizens of the Year by the Greater Wakefield Chamber of Commerce.

Robyn Olivares was named Volunteer of the Year by Moose Mountain Regional Greenways.

The Rev. Mary James of the First Congregational Church of Wakefield took a three-month leave in August. The Rev. Albert Mhururu from Zimbabwe served as acting pastor in her absence.

Arthur Capello resigned as building inspector and code enforcement officer on May 17. He was replaced by Nate Fogg and David Stephen.

The town lost some distinguished citizens in 2013. Former Police Officer and Dog Control Officer Henry Blanton, 86, died on Aug. 10. Fifteen days later his wife Ruth Fogg Blanton, 74, also passed away.

Elizabeth "Bettie" Dale Kenney, 86, died on Dec. 12. She was a well-known singer and state legislator as well as the mother of former State Sen. Joe Kenney.

The town also mourned the loss of Lucien Paradis Jr. (72, died March 27); Dr. Lawrence Toms (81, April 23); Joy Woodhull (82, June 27); Ruth Fritz (89, Aug. 9); Marvin Gruelle (82, Oct. 5); Barbara Jean Richards (83, Oct. 17); and Audrey Thompson (89, Oct. 23).

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